How to make money the open-source-way, but keep the commons alive? – Question 7 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

March 16, 2015 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Open innovation – often based on open licensing and commons-approaches – is changing the business models of more and more businesses and social institutions. Before the advent of open innovation, innovation was kept within the boundaries of the firm (or research institution). In contrast, “Open innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to markets, as the firms look to advance their technology”, scholar Henry Chesbrough, who coined the term open innovation, has put it. But what opportunities does this imply for institutions in developing countries? What are their learning opportunities?

Source and Copyright: (GIZ)

Source and Copyright: (GIZ)

Let’s take a look again at the global tech sector as a starting point (for more details, see Seibold 2010a). Here, the most prominent example of free and open source software development and licensing are the operating system Linux, the office suite Open Office and the web browser Firefox. Linux has shown that open-source programs can be very competitive. The reason is obvious: more people know the source code and, accordingly, can correct flaws and make other improvements.

For the private sector in developing countries, such knowledge commons provide a clear opportunity, not only for low-cost access to global state-of-the-art knowledge, technology transfer, and open peer-learning on a massive scale (see Seibold 2009, Seibold 2010a, Seibold 2010b; UNCTAD 2012: 9ff), but also because they have the potential to empower local businesses and communities in developing countries. This creates truly local open innovation by appropriating elements of outside open innovations and transforming them into a product or service that is relevant to local needs.

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Where to find free knowledge for open innovation in development? – Question 6 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

January 11, 2015 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Compendium of hubs for commons-based peer production 4Dev (screenshot)In previous blog entries, I talked a lot about commons-based peer production and learning in areas crucial to development cooperation such as Energy, Health, Education etc. A key question then is where to find such “free knowledge” for open innovation and for peer-production in the different sectors of human development?

I have collected an annotated compendium of hubs for commons-based peer production that are of particular interest for sustainable human development. These hubs include energypedia, appropedia, opensourceecology, Howtopedia, knowable, and Fabwiki. The compendium is complemented by links to comprehensive directories.

Please note, that I have included mainly hubs with a focus on “production”, on “peer-driven production” and on “commons-based initiatives” for human development. All those chosen focus on open learning and practical improvement on a community-level; nevertheless, many of them have a global reach.

Many of the platforms have deliberately chosen open models and ‘open source’ licenses that enable “commons-based peer production” as envisioned by Yochai Benkler. Why? Because they feel, that ‘open source’ licensing can best spur open learning, invention, and innovation processes that come with it.

 So here is my compendium of hubs for commons-based peer production for sustainable human development.

>>> Do you know more such hubs? Please let me know.

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What makes people share knowledge? – Question 2 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

September 6, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Blink And You’ll Miss It! / Pete / CC BY / Source:

Blink And You’ll Miss It! / Pete / CC BY / Source:

Why do peers help peers to share and co-produce knowledge? Research suggests that there is a whole set of motivations that makes people share their knowledge, a mixture between altruistic and self-serving motives summed up in the following table:

14 Reasons Why Peers Help Peers to Learn: Why Do They Share Their Knowledge? (Table 1)

  1. Because you learn yourself through co-production and tutoring
  2. Because you win recognition and prestige from your peers
  3. Because you might further your own interests through the co-production of knowledge, such as testing new solutions, benchmarking, mastering a technology, etc.
  4. Because you can solve a problem that you can only solve by collaborating with others
  5. Because you might gain power of persuasion within your organisation, network, or peer group
  6. Because you are proud to co-own a tangible “product”
  7. Because you have the freedom to co-create knowledge or goods, which increases autonomy and self-direction, and thereby motivation
  8. Because you build emotional bonds with people and things
  9. Because you feel “meaningful” by supporting the community, giving back through reciprocity (putting values such as fairness, solidarity, and altruism into practice)
  10. Because you know that the result of your commons-based peer activities will be available to others over time, and cannot be monopolized or privatized
  11. Because you feel good being associated with a trendy and innovative community
  12. Because you get continued access to knowledge, news and services
  13. Because you enlarge your personal and professional networks
  14. Because you can freely choose topics according to your interests

Sources for table above: GTZ 2006: 43; Wenger et al. 2011; Preece/Shneiderman 2009; Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. 2011: 125ff; Ghosh et al. 2002: 43-50; own considerations; Pyne 2010 1


This blog is part of a series of 10 questions that I have extracted of my article “Learning by Sharing  – „How global communities cultivate skills and capacity through peer-production of knowledge“. The piece has been released in June  as part of the GIZ Online- Series „10 trends in open innovation. How to leverage social media for new forms of cooperation“. Check it at

Further readings on the question? Here.

Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany ( Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.

  1. Pyne, Becca; Stephenson, Abi; Cognitive Media (2010) “The surprising truth about what motivates us” (2010, April 1), RSA Animate – Drive, Retrieved June 27, 2013

Open African Innovation Research at GIZ’s innovation lounge at re:publica in Berlin

May 28, 2013 in Freedom to innovate, Open Source & Africa, Open Source IT business

republica-2013_copyright_re_publicare:publica is à priori a German blogger conference. Over the years it has however morphed into an international gathering of more than 5000 people from more than 50 countries with a common interest in the following themes: Digital business and innovation, social media, research & education in the Internet, campaigning, culture, media and ultimately, the “res publica”.

So re:publica 2013 was a good place to talk about the ‘Open African Innovation Research & Training Network’ and the upcoming ‘Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest’ and interwoven ‘Open A.I.R conference on open innovation and intellectual property’ in Cape Town from 9 to 13 December.

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Two Wikipedians in Residence for Africa – call for application

November 12, 2012 in Freedom to learn

WikiAfrica has put out a call for two Wikipedians in Residence (WiR) for the African Continent. The first will facilitate the WikiAfrica Cameroon Project at doual’art in Cameroon. The other will be based with WikiAfrica at the Africa Centre in Cape Town, and will concentrate on assisting, training and supporting the content partners that are part of WikiAfrica’s Share Your Knowledge project. Wikipedian in Residence is an experienced Wikipedian who works with organisations and activates communities in order to share and open up cultural, arts and heritage content to the world through Wikipedia and related Wikimedia projects.

I find this a very interesting initiative and approach, and I believe that Wikipedians in Residence is a cool tool, which has already moved quite some things in North America and Europe. For more info on the call for application, check the website . Please do not contact me, Balthas, as I do not have any extra info. Cheers.

„Amorphous action communities for commons-based peer production“ – some thoughts on networking in the future

November 1, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

seibold_future of global networking for international cooperationYesterday, I tried to put the future of „global networking for international cooperation“ in one slide –  looking five to ten years ahead. My first problem was to find a name for the future. I ended up with „Amorphous action communities for open innovation and [commons-based] peer production (globally connected, innovating locally)“.

Then, I outlined some of intermediate steps in networking such as „Open networks of trust“ and „Communities of Practice“, which we are already seeing popping up. My final guess was on some of the driving forces, that will lead us from today’s networks all the way to the „amorphous action communities“.

So here’s the picture, with the steps and the driving forces:

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The future of economies and business – what’s in it for partner countries and networking among partners & alumni?

August 22, 2012 in Freedom to innovate


Copyright: GIZ (I think/hope, if not let me know ...)

Copyright: GIZ (I think/hope, if not let me know …)

Today, I am reporting to you from a GIZ topical conference, where we discussed „the future of economies and business“. We had here lot’s of experts and numerous programmes on sustainable private sector development and economic policy of GIZ from over 30 countries.

Here’s my personal summary of the event for you in four headlines:

1)    Economic crisis in Europe – but don’t you worry in Africa, Asia and Latin America
The experts tell us that we are in trouble in Europe. But: according to them this issue will not affect the economies of developing countries and transition countries.
My comment: let’s hope they are right this time 🙂

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World Bank announces … Open Access Policy (ok, and a new president as well :-)

April 17, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source IT business

Copyright World Bank, source:

Copyright World Bank, source:

In the coming days, everyone will talk about the new president of the world bank. I think that the recently announced move of the world bank to an “Open Access Policy for Research and Knowledge” and its launch of an “Open Knowledge Repository” will be more significant over time.

According to a press release, the bank will implement a new Open Access policy for its research outputs and knowledge products, effective July 1, 2012. “The new policy builds on recent efforts to increase access to information at the World Bank and to make its research as widely available as possible. As the first phase of this policy, the Bank launched today a new Open Knowledge Repository and adopted a set of Creative Commons copyright licenses.”

Good move.

BTW: I am quite encouraged to see, that the WB is using the same licence, which we have been implemented in all of our it@inwent capacity building programmes (Update: Link now goes to the site archived by the Internet Archive – last version of 2012)., for instance for the guide “Free your IT Business in Africa“.

BTW 2: For all German readers, there is a good post on the new world bank policy on open heise.

Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany ( Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.

MOOCs, Large Courses Open to All, Topple Campus Walls

March 5, 2012 in Freedom to learn

It looks like the ideas around open education are reaching the mainstream media. I just found this piece on “Massive Open Online Courses — known as MOOCs” in the New York Times. the article takes up some of the ideas which we have been experimenting in the past years, e.g. collective building of open educational resources, which we did at ict@innovation, see The trend towards “Open Online Courses” is certainly an interesting one, particularly for our field of developing capacities through global & open knowledge cooperation. Cheers, Balthas


Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany ( Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.